Gifted Children & Albany Schools
Archived Q&A and Reviews
My son will be entering kindergarten this upcoming fall. We live in the Albany school district. He is a naturally curious boy and is already reading beginner books, with consonant and vowel blends. For math is he doing simple one-two digit addition. I'm concerned that the 3-hour public school curriculum won't be enough to keep him engaged. And the after school options don't offer much in way of enrichment. Can someone who has a child at a similar level offer some kind of feeback (good or bad) about the Albany public schools and what their children do there? I love the idea of a local neighborhood school, but want to meet his needs and curiosity. Thank you in advance for your feedback.
I had the same worries around 9 years ago. Our son was a fluent reader entering K, and his K class did one letter per week! However, please don't let that stop you. Nothing could have been better than the education he got at Cornell School (excepting maybe 4th grade, but that was an odd fluke). The after-school (Y-Kids Club) was all about excercise, making friends, getting help with homework, and getting along in a group - all things that helped our son tremendously (I just wanted them to tire him out). I learned a lot over the years about my son's personality, and about how school is not just about academics - at all. Academically, I'm sure there are better all-around school districts, with better facilities, more AP classes, etc. But Albany has a great & diverse mix of kids/families/teachers, and a terrific atmosphere. Our son had issues with socializing that took a tremendous amount of patience, and he usually got the help he needed. He wasn't phased by the one letter per week deal in K (it's really just for structure - they did many many other things), he just sort of put up with it, and we all focused with him on his people skills. (Our daughter had the same K teacher, thank goodness! She was a wise & wonderful blessing for us once more.) He is still best friends with the kids he met in K, and now they're in 8th, preparing rigorously for high school. It's definitely challenging academic material now, and has been for many years. Some, including our son, are turning into great musicians, having played band instruments together beginning in 4th grade. Most of our best friends are parents of our childrens' friends. I'd say our son is doing amazingly well, both socially & academically. What a great experience it's been for us all, I wouldn't trade it for anything! Worry less, have more fun & count your blessings, that's my advice. :) Albany Mom
I know in 2003 people have said that gifted children will not be happy in Albany schools (http://parents.berkeley.edu/recommend/schools/albany/gifted.html) but I wondered if anyone had stuck with them and found any solutions. Our child is in one of the elementary schools now and is finding the work too easy. I also remember how being in a GATE program was very supportive when I was young, and think that's important for gifted children. What have other parents done and why?
left for private schools? If so, which ones?
found accommodations at the school?
had your kid skipped a grade?
stuck it out until high school and honors classes? Was it worth it?
I am really curious to hear about how people have dealt with gifted children in the Albany schools! For a couple of years now my son has been ''used'' to help teach the other students. I love the school and the teachers are working hard and doing what they can. But with 28-30 children in the class, there is not much they can do. Last summer we tried the Head Royce summer program but my son said ''Mom, all the kids who are here NEED to be here.'' That wasn't what we were looking for. So advice here will be really helpful
Love Albany schools but want more
I beleive all schools receiving Federal and/or state funding are required to provide all kids work that is appropriate for them, that includes in particular offering more challenging work to gifted and talented children. I recommend that you check into this to see if that's the case. It's unfair to any taxpaying citizen to feel they must leave the public schools in order to get a good education for their children. Albany schools should be providing this in any case whether it's required by law. Push for it. Contact Dr. Wong, etc.
My child is in Kindergarten in Albany schools and we have been VERY disappointed. He has a fall birthday and we held him so he'd be an older child in the classroom even though his reading and math were way beyond average. We had heard that K teachers are pretty well able to handle a range of abilities but that has not proven to be the case. They really just care about getting kids up to the level of the standards and don't give a hoot about kids who are performing above grade level, especially if they don't cause trouble. That said, I understand that there is a large group of kids in the 3rd grade classes at Marin School that were doing more advanced work, so the teachers all came up with a program to help both the kids above and below. But I think that is a rare situation.
My understanding of the Albany argument against the GATE program is that so many of our kids would test into it. Apparently no one has ever confronted them and said that the standards then ought to be raised or a more creative curriculum introduced at all levels so that kids can excel and not stagnate, waiting for other kids to catch up to them
Thinking about switch to private
If you are the parent of a very bright child, I think you might find Albany schools disappointing. As has been noted on this group before, Albany schools do little or nothing for gifted and talented children--at least as part of the official curriculum.
The problem is mitigated in K-3 because of the smaller classrooms, due to the state class size reduction program. But grades 4-8 don't have much to offer gifted kids. At the high schools, kids can pick from a reasonable selection of honors and AP courses. There are clubs and after school programs, but they don't help with the problem of boredom in the classroom.
Albany schools do a good job of bringing average and below- average kids up to a pretty high level. But if your child is already performing above the level, they will just be used as test score fodder.
As the dissatisfied parent of a gifted child, my advice is to seriously consider private schools or some other alternative to Albany schools if you have a gifted child. Anonymous
Albany Middle School has no GATE program, and seems indifferent, and sometimes almost hostile when approached by parents who feel their child (ren) are not being challenged by the present curriculum. To quote the principal - ''1/2 the children at Albany are gifted'' (I had no idea that 1/2 of AMS kids scored in the 99th percentile on IQ or other tests assessing learning ability.) To again quote the principal ''1/2 the parents at AMS think their child is gifted''. Well, that may be true, and probably a good take by parents, but that doesn't change the fact that a certain group of children with special needs (high achievers bored with the standardized curriculum) are dismissed as a pleasant problem needing no attention from AMS. My recommend? If you have a gifted child, explore a GATE program in another district, because you will be politely ignored (sometimes impolitely) at AMS, which seems content to coach to the standardized state tests and leave it at that... ANON